This is an interview with Ikoma Rina, found in the 2014 version of the Senbatsu Election Book. Interviewer is in bold, Ikoma’s answers are in quotes.
Nogizaka46 was formed as AKB48’s “official rival”. One of the members who stands at the center of the group is Ikoma Rina. In the “Grand Shuffle Festival”, it was announced that she would become a concurrent member with AKB48 as a “foreign exchange student”.
“When I first heard the announcement that I would be a concurrent member, I was really surprised too. The members were all joking with each other, saying ‘I bet someone will get transferred from Nogizaka’, but I never thought it would be me… . It’s just that, if what we were joking about actually happened, I planned on going to AKB. One reason is that I feel our live peformances are lacking in strength. In order to satisfy the people who come to see us, I have to level up my singing and dancing…And right when I was thinking that, I received the news about the concurrency, so I feel like it was fated. I think it’s a huge chance for me to grow”.
For the sake of her own growth, and to further the development of the group even more, Ikoma accepted the concurrency.
“Before, I would get sentimental very easily and ended up crying a lot. I worried about coming to a standstill, then I would panic and try to run away. But since I joined Nogizaka, I’ve experienced many things, and I think I’ve gotten a little tougher and more resilient. Without running from the things set before me, I’ll challenge anything I can, and I’ve started to be able to think of it as good experience for my future. It’s probably impossible to do everything perfectly, but I think as long as I try, it’s fine even if it doesn’t turn out that well”.
When she was in middle school, she was a glum, negative girl. She looked upon her more popular classmates with jealousy and envy. Wanting to change, she became an idol.
“From the start, I wasn’t the type of person to stand in the spotlight. I never imagined I would be chosen to be Nogizaka’s center and do MCs as the group representative. I really think it was a miracle. There have been a lot of hard times, but this is the first time I’ve ever found something I could really lose myself in. I’m not good at studying or athletics. For someone like me with no redeeming qualities, Nogizaka46 is the one place I belong, a place where I can give my all and have fun”.
This will be her first election as a concurrent member.
“Honestly, I wasn’t sure I should present candidacy. I know there were some fans who were saying ‘I don’t want you to enter’, and I was also worried about what the other Nogizaka members would think… . But our captain, Sakurai Reika, gave me a push by telling me ‘I think the election will turn into a positive for you, Ikoma, so you should enter’. Her words put me at ease, and I know the other members are supporting me, so I went for it”.
Ikoma is worried about the “challenge of the unknown” the election represents, but she’s ready for it.
“Since it’s been decided that I’ll do things with AKB as a concurrent member, I think I have to see everything that AKB does. I might not be allowed to enter the election next year, so I think it’s something I can only do right now. What is the election like? I want to see that with my own eyes and experience it for myself. Even just once, I want to absorb a lot of things and take them back with me to Nogizaka”.